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Overview

Supporting research and public engagement that advances our mission.

We continue to accept innovative proposals that align with our broader mission in Science & the Big Questions, even if the applications do not fit into a Strategic Priority.

For the next five years, approximately one-fifth of our funding in Science & the Big Questions will be committed to supporting work outside of the twelve Strategic Priorities. Such proposals should engage with one or more of the themes that continue to define our funding in Science & the Big Questions:

  • Fundamental Structures and Laws of Nature. What is the nature of space-time? Do we inhabit a multiverse? How did life originate? By supporting research on such questions we seek to catalyze discoveries concerning the fundamental laws and structures of nature and to examine their philosophical and theological implications. We support experimental and theoretical research in a range of areas, among them relativity, emergence, cosmology, evolution, origins of life, quantum physics, the nature of space and time, and fundamental questions in mathematics.
  • The Nature of the Divine. Is there a divine reality? What is the relationship of God to the cosmos? How can scientific discovery inform our theological understanding? By supporting multi-disciplinary scientific, theological, and philosophical research, we aim to deepen our understanding of the possibility and purposes of the divine. The Foundation does not privilege any one spiritual or theological tradition. As a result, proposals from any religious tradition are welcome, as are proposals that are not situated within any religious tradition.
  • The Nature and Potential of the Mind. What are human persons, and what makes them distinctive? What is the relationship between the mind and the body? How can we cultivate valuable qualities of the mind such as creativity and imagination? We support scientific and philosophical research that aims to foster a deeper understanding of the nature and powers of the mind. Topics in this funding area range broadly, including the nature of cognition, consciousness, intentionality, agency and free will, as well as intelligence, prospection, and creativity.
  • Religion and Spirituality in Human Experience. What is the fundamental nature of religious experience? What triggers experiences of awe and wonder? Do religion and spirituality promote or hinder moral behavior? Religion and spirituality are found across all times and cultures. For many people, religion is a principal source of purpose, meaning, and identity. We support empirical and theoretical research that aims to understand spiritual beliefs, experiences, and practices and their implications for human flourishing.
  • Life, Love, and Virtue. What does it mean to love? Does optimism foster success? How can we become more generous, grateful, and forgiving? Virtuous character is essential for our individual and collective flourishing. We support empirical research concerning virtues such as generosity, hope, honesty, humility, and thrift, in order to promote a deeper understanding of how these and other virtues are internalized and strengthened, how they advance our well being, and how they shape our sense of meaning and purpose.

Learn about how to apply for a grant.